Angel Beats! – God vs. The Konami Code

I must agree with others expressing profound skepticism about the nature of this world. The most popular description of this world seems to be that it is like a video game rather than the afterlife/purgatory/what the hell ever. And, frankly, I don’t see how anyone could think otherwise, at least through these first two episodes. Landon puts it best: “The logic [of the world] is far too video game-like and doesn’t even remotely resemble an afterlife-logic.”

What interests me most is how this permeates everything in this world from the actual properties of the world — Infinite lives! Ginormous weapons the heroes can create from dirt! — to level progression — you have your water area, mechanized area, underground area, etc. — all the way down to the characters. Aside from being hilarious, the rather blasé way the characters deal with the deaths of their comrades, especially Yuri, seems to run counter to their expressed belief that they are fighting God gave them shitty, unreasonable lives. “Man, it sure pisses me off that God fucked with my life so badly! . . . Except when we get killed by traps and shit; that’s actually pretty funny.”

Mind, I think it’s funny too. (Particularly when that smug asshat survives not even a nanosecond past the second eyecatch. Predictable joke, but I laughed nonetheless.) Then again, I’m not fighting God, or anything. So why are the traps such a riot, then? Because it’s video game logic. You have to die so many times before you finally get it right — when it doesn’t piss you off, it makes you laugh. Even the attributes of the characters play into their survival rate. Big guy doesn’t survive the lasers because he can’t jump over them. Douchebag is eliminated by the water trap because he can’t swim. Ninja chick falls prey to her trap because she loves cute things. What’s his face falls into the spike pit from Mortal Kombat because he’s a boob-grabbing pervert. And so on and so forth.

It’s like when you get to certain levels in Super Mario Bros. 2 and have to switch between characters because their unique attributes are helpful in different areas — Princess Toadstool’s floating ability saves your ass in one place, Luigi’s long jumps in another, Mario’s precise jumping is helpful in other places and Toad is useful when you want to chuck vegetables at shit. Same thing here. One day TK’s random Engrish phrases will help save the day.

Even Yuri’s backstory plays to this logic, sort of. Obviously she’s not being completely forthright with Otonashi because she never says how she dies, and I guess it can be presumed — if this story is truthful in any way — that Yuri lived a while longer after this family tragedy. Anyway, Yuri’s story reminds me of the dead spots in games when you need to recover from some intense action, so the game figures, “Eh, let’s throw out some story now.” It’s like back in the day when games were transitioning from having minimal story — “Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?” — to actually having fleshed out storylines, except video game writers really hadn’t mastered storytelling at all so it was always really awkward.

Main difference here is there is no B button to mash furiously so that the cutscenes can be skipped. The Angel Beats crew should be thankful they don’t have to replay these scenes every time they die as is required for the rest of us mortals. But, yeah, I do agree that Yuri’s story comes off as blatantly tearjerky, especially given the tone of the rest of the episode. This sort of thing is actually par for the course in Key stories (at least in the anime; never played the visual novels, myself), but it’s taken to a more extreme extent here because everyone has a huge stockpile of 1-Ups.

And of course Angel herself is total video game logic: She’s like Mike Tyson, all the Weapons from Final Fantasy VII and the entire Battletoads game wrapped in one dangerous package of moe. Complete throwback to the bosses players had to face roughly 10 kajillion times before finally getting the pattern down, obliterating the boss and bragging to their friends for months. Appears as if Yuri’s crew has about a billion more deaths to go before they master the pattern, however.

P.S.: I lol’d at Evirus referencing the Shrike. Wish I’d thought of that first; maybe I would have if I weren’t one of those lame asses who only read Hyperion after seeing Yuki read it in Haruhi Suzumiya. lol @ me

12 Responses to “Angel Beats! – God vs. The Konami Code”

  1. The Shrike comparisons totally appropriate. Though I’m still positive Otonashi is going to find some way to make friends with it.

    • Not like he can kick her ass, so he might as well make friends with her. Then maybe she’ll join his party, except of course she’ll be way underleveled since characters are always stronger when you fight them than they are when they join your party.

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  4. Kurokaze-sama Says:

    Even if it’s an anime adaptation, the series so far feels like pretty much anything but. (And let’s be honest: we’re all watching this for TK and his kickass seiyuu.)

  5. Excellent post, has me reconsidering the way I’ve been writing my own reviews. The fact that this world is some kind of game-like VR I think is past the point of uncertainty, beyond the amazing proof you provide the physical hints inherent within all of Tenshi’s action scenes basically seal the deal. Some basically needs to even be willing to say the the death/awakening thing is basically your run of the mill respawn timer. I am very much loving this show atm even the cliche’d bits because the production crew knows very well how to tug at my heart strings and also make me laugh, its a great combination if you do it right.

    Can’t wait to continue reading you thoughts on this series and others, glad I found this place via links.

    • Haha, I wish I could take credit for the video game angle, but plenty of people posited it before I did. I simply added some of my thoughts to the theory.

  6. This might explain why the traps so reminded me of Resident Evil (and RE4 more specifically). Maybe if they replaced the broken shotgun on the wall in the study, TK could have lived…

  7. The Shrike would make for a terrible show, as he’d have all those losers on the tree in 5 seconds… and then we’d be sitting there watching it hulk menacingly for the rest of the series. Of course if some of the SSS members had read Endymion, they could have deployed some cool monofilament traps.

    P.S. Tenshi is cuter that Mike Tyson (thank goodness… though Tyson in a skirt might make for some interesting watching).

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